Stem cell donor match found for six-year-old Leland from Gateshead

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Leland was invited by Ryan Reynolds to watch Blyth Spartans play Wrexham FC. Credit: ITV News

A match has been found for a six-year-old boy from Gateshead who has been desperately seeking a stem cell donor.

Leland was diagnosed with pre-leukaemia in September and needs a bone marrow transplant.

When Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds sent Leland a video message to support his search, the number of people signing up to the donor register surged.

His mum, Sarah, said on Twitter: "We got the wonderful news yesterday that a match has been found for Leland.

"That special match, who has given us the best Christmas gift ever imaginable. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that registered."

Leland captured the nation's hearts after Blyth Spartans player JJ O'Donnell shared his story online ahead of their FA cup qualifier game against Wrexham FC.

Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds, who co-owns the Welsh club with actor friend Rob McElhenney, saw the post, sent Leland a message of support and invited him to be a VIP at the game.

Anthony Nolan is a charity that runs the stem cell donor register. Following that message, sign-ups jumped from an average of 78 per day, to over 500.

Leland's own club, Gateshead Redheugh, also held a tournament to mark the six-year-old's final game before treatment which turned into a mass-swabbing event. Stem cell charities Anthony Nolan and DKMS were pitchside to sign any potential donors up.

When the news of a match was announced, JJ O'Donnell said: "My little mate. What incredible news!!

"Leland has found a match in his battle against Leukaemia. We’re not sure if the match has been since the Wrexham game but it has given the little man, the best early Christmas Present. Thank you to everyone who registered."

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